Temporary vs Permanent Change of Address – What’s the Difference?

Temporary VS Permanent change of address…so what’s the difference? Here is a full overview of the pros & cons of each type of change, to help you make a decision that is right for you!

Moving is stressful enough on its own. Having to juggle all that packing, all that planning, and that actually moving everything to a new house or apartment never goes as smoothly as we like. There are always moving parts that throw our carefully laid plans into (hopefully) controlled chaos. It doesn’t take much for moving to get pretty stressful. The only thing that makes moving even more stressful is worrying about whether or not your mail is going to get to your new address or be left behind at your old one. Believe it or not, that happens a lot more often than people think. Thankfully though, there are a couple ways you can go about changing your address temporarily or permanently. That’s why we put together this quick guide.


Below we highlight how to go through the Change of Address process, but we also breakdown how to change your address temporarily – if you’re moving to warmer weather just for the winter before returning home, for example – or to change your address permanently. By the time you’re done with this detailed guide you’ll know exactly what to do to guarantee that all your mail arrives at your new address. Ready to jump right in? Great! Let’s get into it.


post office building


The Major Differences Between Temporary and Permanent Change of Address (COA)


Straight out of the gate it’s important to highlight the major differences between a temporary Change of Address (COA) and a permanent COA. Choosing between the two is going to have a huge impact on how your mail is handled moving forward. Obviously, a permanent COA is going to have your mail redirected (no surprise here) on a permanent basis. This is best used for when you are changing your address completely and do not expect ever to return to the prior address that you were using before. Folks will usually use a permanent change when they are moving house, changing apartments, or leaving the state (or the country) and expect to be gone for longer than 12 months.


On the flip side of things, a temporary COA is recommended to be used for individuals, families, and businesses that expect this address change to only be in place for 12 months or less. This kind of COA is usually recommended when you are moving locations around with short-term leases, moving locations around because of renovations or rebuilding, or are temporarily moving your residence or your home for extended stays at a vacation home, rental property, or for other temporary reasons. The temporary COA process through the United States Postal Service (USPS) also has an option to redirect your mail for 60 days. Most of the time this is used to handle magazines, newsletters, and other periodicals. But if you expect that you’re going to be traveling for work for little while (but no longer than two months) it may be worth taking advantage of this temporary COA as well.


There’s also an opportunity to specify that certain pieces of mail (types of mail, anyway) get forwarded while others do not. This is particularly useful for those that run a business out of their home, especially if they are going to be moving to a new office and want to separate the two types of mail completely. You can set up this kind of mail forwarding with the USPS (as well as services like US Global Mail) on a temporary or permanent basis, too.


usps truck delivering mail


How to Setup Change of Address with the USPS


The process for setting up a Change of Address with the USPS is generally pretty straightforward, though there are certainly some hoops you’ll need to jump through all the same. Below we breakdown the process in as much detail as you’ll need to go through it with little stress and headache. Keep these things in mind as you go from one step to the next and you’ll be able to get your COA in place with no trouble at all. Let’s dive right in.


change of address form


Change in Person or Online?


The first thing you’ll need to do is decide whether or not you want to change your address in person or go through the process online. If you decide to do the “in person” approach you’ll be glad to know that every single post office in United States can handle this for you. All you have to do is walk in, alert the postal clerks the fact that you’d like to either temporarily or permanently change your address, and they will hand you the proper paperwork to fill out. There give you a form called the USPS Form 3575 (as part of a Movers Guide they all have on hand) that you’ll have to fill out. Return the process to the postal clerk – showing two different forms of ID, a photo ID and a proof of residence – and you are good to go. The in-person process is available 100% free of charge and again can be handled at any local post office in your area. It takes about 15 minutes from start to finish to fill out the form and have everything taken care of.


If you want to go the online route, though, you’ll need to visit the USPS website directly. You’ll then want to navigate to the Change My Address section of the site where you’ll find a digital version of the USPS Form 3575 to fill out. Putting all of your contact information, the address that you’re moving from as well as the address that you’re moving your mail to, and then decide whether or not you’re doing a permanent or temporary change. The next step is unique to the online process, though. You’ll have to provide verification information over the internet, and that involves a dollar being charged to a valid credit or debit card that has the same billing address as your original address. This is something you want to think about before you go through the online process. As soon as payment completes, though, you’ll be good to go. In either process, you should expect changes to be fully in place in about two weeks. Some USPS offices are going to be able to change things much faster, but it very rarely takes any longer than two weeks for all of your mail to start getting redirected.


Choose the Type of Change


During the COA process you also need to decide whether or not you are going to be forwarding or changing your mailing address for individuals, families, or a business. If just one person is moving from a location (on a temporary or permanent basis) and you want ONLY their mail to move with them, the Individual choice part of the COA process needs to be selected. If an entire family (all residence in that home) are going to be moving then you want to select the Family option during the COA process. Lastly, if a business is changing locations you’ll obviously want to select the Business choice during the COA process. All of this is pretty simple and straightforward and clearly outlined on the USPS Form 3575 available in-person or online.


forwarding a package


Choose Regular or Premium Forwarding


You also need to choose whether or not you are going to move forward with Regular or Premium Forwarding available through the USPS. Regular mail forwarding is going to send each piece of mail that you get to your new address just the same way as you were getting mail all along. The service is free, is available for COAs that last as little as 15 days or up to 12 months, and is what most people take advantage of. Premium Mail forwarding, on the other hand, is a paid service through the USPS. This service costs a one-time fee of $20.10 (or $18.45 if you sign up online) with another $20.10/$18.45 fee charged for every week of service you take advantage of. In return you get all of your mail held for the week, all of it packaged in a single box, and all of it shipped via Priority Mail to an address of your choosing. That is services available for between two weeks and up to 12 months it is really only suitable for temporary COAs.


holding a credit card in front of a computer


What Do I Need to Change My Address?


There are a bunch of reasons you might need to change your address, but the most important reason to change your address – at least through USPS or with US Global Mail, anyway – is to guarantee that strangers aren’t receiving important pieces of mail that are going to your old address. A lot of people just assume that they will update their mailing address with their credit cards, their banks, and on any other important documents and that mail will just sort of “find them” later down the line. That’s not exactly how it works. Unless and until you do a COA (temporary or permanent) mail will still arrive at your old mailbox. If you to physically change and update your address who knows what kind of personal, private, or sensitive information could wind up in the hands of other people. It’s critical that you go through the COA process every time you move, even if you only expect to be traveling for a couple of months or two.


clock melting


How Long Does It Take for the Changes to Take Affect?


As highlighted above, it can take upwards of two weeks for your new COA to actually be put in place. This is why it’s such a good idea to get out in front of the process as early as possible, especially if you know that you’re going to be going to a new address in the near future and don’t want to have to worry about packages not finding you there. The USPS and companies like US Global Mail do a great job at trying to expedite the process for you as much as they can. At the same time, just because of the logistics of everything (and because a lot of pieces of mail will still be in the delivery process during your COA) they cannot guarantee that your new address will be in place until two weeks after you have made the change. Plan ahead and you’ll have nothing to worry about.


usps customer support


Can I Edit My Change of Address?


Absolutely! If you need to change your COA at any point in time – whether it is “active” or not – with USPS you can contact their customer service hotline at any point in time and go through the editing process. You can reach customer service with USPS at 1-800-275-8777 during normal business hours. You can also visit any local post office to make changes to your COA (whether or not that’s the post office you initiated this change), too.


What Should I Do If My Mail Isn’t Being Forwarded?


The USPS may or may not forward all different kinds of mail during a temporary COA, which is why you want to make sure that you update your information on your own with businesses and organizations like:


• Banks and credit unions
• Financial investors and investment accounts
• Credit card companies and financial services
• Your employer
• Your doctor and medical providers
• Information with the Department/Registry of Motor Vehicles (DMV/RMV)
• Information with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

… And other businesses or organizations like that.


If you haven’t been getting your mail from someone that you are expecting not a bad idea to reach out to them directly and change your address with them.


packages at a US Global Mail warehouse


Choosing US Global Mail for Your COA and Mail Forwarding Needs


Of course, the USPS is the only organization that can help you with a Change of Address on a temporary or permanent basis. Mail forwarding and mail scanning companies like US Global Mail offer a whole host of other benefits that the USPS simply cannot offer because of their status as a part of the government. Private companies like US Global Mail can offer full digital scanning of your mail, acceptance of your packages on your behalf, shipping to any other address (domestic or international), automatic and automated mail forwarding that you set up yourself, a private street address as opposed to a PO Box number – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. For more information about everything that US Global Mail has to offer, check out their services on their site today.

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